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The Value of Volunteers

The Value of Volunteers

Eastertide canal-side activities. A report by Volunteers Coordinator Jon Pontefract

Teams of volunteers were at work on the canal at many points through Stroud over the Easter period. On Sunday 7th April there were up to eighty people using a wide range of tools and skills on numerous restoration tasks.

Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) volunteers are scheduled for nine weekend visits and two weeks of Canal Camps in order to work at Ham Mill Lock. They will be accommodated in the former Burkert building at Brimscombe Port by kind permission of the Stroud Valleys Canal Company.
Previous wrgie visits have seen work commence on the restoration of Ham Mill Lock.

Nomadic Navvies

At very short notice, due to weather and landowner issues elsewhere, two WRG Teams found themselves diverted to Stroud from other projects in England. They certainly made themselves very busy!

Gough’s Orchard Bridge

The first camp from 30th March to 6th April was led by Martin Thompson. The volunteers cleared willows from the canal channel between Gough’s Orchard Bridge and Canal Ironworks. They also carried out scrub clearance at Hope Mill and assisted CCT at Griffin Mill Lock.

Brimscombe Port Walls

A sub group, led by deputy leader, Ed Walker, salvaged part of the historic Brimscombe Port Walls for future rebuild.

The stonework has been badly damaged by an ash tree growing out of the wall. The tree was felled some time ago. The remaining tree-stump and root system now needs to be cut out of the stonework.

The stones have been individually numbered, according to a plan drawn up by volunteer Geoff Herbert. They are now in store at Brimscombe Port. The stump will be cut away and the stonework rebuilt at a later stage.

Griffin Mill

An overlapping weekend visit by KESCRG (Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group), saw them join in with activity at Griffin Mill Lock.

Hilly Orchard Bridge

On 6th April, the second camp led by Sophie Smith arrived. They covered a number of tasks…

They rebuilt the brick wing wall at Hilly Orchard Bridge. They then went on to cut back a concrete pipe that was protruding into the canal channel at Frome Gardens. Next, they assisted with towpath reconstruction and finally… they built the boat trailer park beside the slipway in Strachans Close. Flexibility indeed!


CCT Director Steve Pickover was leading his monthly CCT work party of local volunteers. A new surface water drain now crosses the towpath at Wallbridge as a result of the work carried out by Steve’s Magnificent Seven.


Meanwhile, REACH, the Cheltenham based Training Company were working with people undertaking Community Payback on the towpath between Griffin Mill Lock and Bowbridge.

The Waterway Recovery Group

Known to all associated with canal restoration as ‘the wrgies’ this band of modern day nomadic navvies travel the country in red hats, red shirts and red vans. They apply their energies and skills to a range of tasks.

Big thanks must go out to them, and all the local people, who give their time energy and experience to the canal restoration.

Find out more – get involved

If you live locally and the thought of some physical activity with a purpose… and a visible & valuable result, appeals then call or email Jon Pontefract at the Stroud District Council Canal Team. 01453 754 287 jon(dot)pontefract(at)stroud(dot)gov(dot)uk

Click here, or on the icon below left, to find out more about The Waterway Recovery Group.

Click here, or on the icon below right, to find out how canal restoration work is creating some valuable benefit to young people carrying out Community Service.